Students welcome new law for tenants to sue for damp problems

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Tenants in Stoke-on-Trent welcome the new law which enables them to sue if their house has damp or mould.

The new law is set to come into place in March will enable tenants to sue their landlord if they do not correctly deal with a damp or mould problem.

Shelter have been campaigning for the change which will come under the Fitness for Human Habitation Act from 20 March.

Damp and mould are a problem that affects many renters in Stoke-on-Trent, especially students.

Alistair Hamilton, a student in Shelton said: “When we moved in there was mould straight up the walls and all over the window frames, it’s just been an absolute nightmare.

“Our landlord hasn’t done anything about it.

“I think when there’s something at stake the landlords will finally go about fixing it because at the moment they like to blame it on us or get us to fix it.

“They say it’s a cheap fix and it’ll only take a couple of minutes whereas it’s actually a constant reoccurring problem.

“I have asthma so the mould just doesn’t help at all and it would be nice to not have to deal with that.”

James Charlton, who also lives in Shelton, said: “We’ve had mould for a while now, we’ve spoken to our landlord twice about it, the first time they asked us if we could remove it ourselves.

“We reported the paint falling off in the bathroom, they instantly came and sorted out the paint but then the mould was still there and they didn’t even touch or look at it.

“I think the new law will make the landlords realise they might be in trouble now.

“A lot of students like myself might not have the time to actually pursue legal actions as I certainly couldn’t but I do think if threats are put into place landlords will now take it more seriously.”

Not just students welcome the law change. There are many residents within Stoke-on-Trent that complain about damp in their home.

Steph Cairncross, Vice president for Staffordshire University Student’s Union, said: “I have penetration mould in my house due to a gutter being broken that is my landlords’ fault.

“She sent a builder round within a week and he sorted it.

“She thanked me for coming forward otherwise it would’ve cost her a lot of money.

“I think the new legislation can only be a good thing as mould is a common problem across all houses in Stoke and not just student housing.

“While it’s good to see that a tenant can take direct legal action it’s not as straight forward as mould equals compensation as it’s not as easy to prove it is the landlord’s fault.

“We haven’t seen how the courts will decide this case yet as it’s not come into place but courts usually rely on professional testaments so can a tenant actually afford a professional opinion?

“But if my landlord wasn’t helpful and unapproachable then this law would help me.”

According to Shelter, there are one million rented homes that are unfit for human habitation.

Those who report a damp problem to their landlord should have an inspection arranged but Shelter advice tenants to be aware of revenge eviction, as often Landlords would rather evict a tenant than pay for repairs.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The Fitness for Human Habitation Act will give all types of renters the power they need to tackle bad conditions – which is why Shelter campaigned hard for it to be passed as law.

“With more and more families renting privately, we desperately need more protections and security for renters.

“The Act will help enforce best practice for landlords and agents, act as a deterrent for bad behaviour, and provide a legal lever for renters to pull if their landlord isn’t complying.

“To help empower as many renters as possible, the government should also ensure legal aid is available – so everyone who needs to can challenge the poor conditions too many of us are living in.”

This act covers these areas;

  • Repair
  • Stability
  • Freedom from damp
  • Internal arrangement
  • Natural lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Water supply
  • Drainage and sanitary conveniences; and
  • Facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water.

To get more information on how report a damp or mould problem go to the Shelter website: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/repairs/damp_and_mould_in_rented_homes

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